By Ron Paul
The economic and moral decay of American society is reflected in the loss of liberties. This problem affects all Americans and not just the poor in the inner city. Gradual erosion of personal and economic liberty has proceeded for a century. The loss of our liberty has sharply accelerated since the 9/11 attacks. We have done to ourselves what no foreign enemy could have possibly accomplished.
Government surveillance provides the state with information that enables it to know our every move. The protection of the Fourth Amendment is gone. Many Americans are comfortable with the sacrifice of liberty for safety and accept the notion that government’s key responsibility is to keep us safe. It’s a nice dream but the truth is it can’t do it. One thing for sure: if it tries, it will do so at the expense of liberty.
Welfare, for the rich or poor, cannot exist without the sacrifice of the principal of property ownership. Though it always starts small and justified for the “needy,” the principle of wealth transfer incentivizes the special interests and the rich to obtain benefit at the expense of the poor. This occurs in all societies and inevitably grows to a point where the production of wealth is diminished and the system collapses. This is what we are witnessing today.
[This essay first appeared at Dr. Paul’s website, Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. This text is Part 2. Read Part 1 here on this website. — DJT]
The growth of the state necessitates government surveillance of all our financial transactions to enhance the collection of tax revenues. Because there is never enough money for the “do-gooders,” the tactics of the tax collectors have become more vicious. Violation of our liberties is excused by the majority in order to ensure that all people “pay their fair share.” When conditions deteriorate, capital controls are imposed to prevent moving assets out of the country. Our monstrous tax code reflects the hundred-years development of our income tax system and is one of the greatest invitations for our “caring” government to pursue the impossible goal of the fair distribution of all wealth.
The vicious drug war, which dates from the early 1970s, provides another excuse for knowing everything about everybody at all times. Its selling point is to keep people safe from themselves. Pursuing this principle guarantees that liberty will be decimated in the process. It invites the government’s interference in our spiritual and intellectual well-being. What one reads and believes becomes of interest to the manipulators who want to care for us for our own good. And they never rest from seeking this goal.
This concession to the state invites controls on everything we put into our bodies: what we eat, drink, or inhale. It takes a lot of bureaucrats, politicians, and money to manage the process. The people, we have been told, are “too stupid” to make their own decisions about their own lives. We are to believe that politicians who invite themselves to rule over us are all-wise and that we should be thankful to sacrifice our liberty for this “service.” Authoritarians actually believe that we should be grateful to them for all the good things that they do for us. We must remember that if the people don’t rebel against a police state it only grows in size and becomes more ruthless.
In addition to all these trends — which includes the federal government monopolizing and administering medical care and education — government surveillance becomes the darling of the gurus who love the technology that allows the government to know our every move, every day, without limits.
With the disaster of 9/11, an existing acceptance of government monitoring, along with technological advances, helped allow a new age to be ushered in that makes the horrors of George Orwell’s 1984 look less threatening by comparison.
Federal government’s war on us
Tolerance is a favorable trait when it means acting without aggression toward others, but tolerance of the monster that has evolved in our government is not good. Instead of adding more government agencies to spy on the American people, we should be talking about eliminating the ones we have, at a cost the American taxpayers of over $80 billion per year.
We have lived with the global war on terrorism for over 13 years now, and the threat of terrorist attacks against Americans and American allies is worse than ever. Though a global threat exists, the greatest dangers for American citizens here at home have been caused by our own government. Our government’s attacks on our liberties have been overwhelming and worse than anything any foreign power has ever done.
It’s the federal government that leads the charge in all our domestic wars, which, in addition to the global war on terrorism, include the war on drugs, taxpayers, and poverty, all of which contribute to the constant war on our privacy. Today every American is a suspect. Our president has established a policy that an American citizen can be assassinated without even being charged with a crime. The national police are made up of over 100,000 bureaucrats and police officials who carry guns to enforce federal law on the American citizens. The Founders and our Constitution intended that policing powers would be the responsibility of the individual states. That was forgotten a long time ago.
Not only do employees of agencies like the CIA, FBI, and BATF carry guns, employees of OSHA, EPA, Fish and Wildlife, and many other agencies enforcing regulations do so as well. The notion of total homeland security being provided by a heavily armed Department of Homeland Security was foreign to America up until just recently. Today, whether it’s riots in our cities or chaos after a national disaster like a hurricane, the Feds are there taking charge over all local officials and property owners, . It shouldn’t surprise us that our local police departments have become an arm of a runaway federal police mentality that mimics an army.
Only a militia, not a standing army
The Founders did not even want a standing army. They wanted only a militia. Today we endure, at the expense of our liberties, a national police force armed like an invading military force. We are destined to see a continued escalation of violence in our cities as the internal conflicts grow. Instead of the police quelling the violence, they unfortunately have become part of it.
It’s evident we have a national police force harassing the people and failing to protect liberty and property. It fails to quell riots while. Too often it incites them. We are also stuck with a huge “standing” army, marching around the world and engaged to some degree in over 150 countries, “making the world safe for democracy” and serving as a private police force for American corporations overseas.
U.S. empire: Whom does it serve?
When Obama announced a shift in geopolitical interest to the Far East — to keep an eye on China — one TV anchor pointed out that the move seems quite logical since we have a lot of “business interests” in the region. It is, in fact, far from logical if one looks at the tragic mess U.S. government interventionism has caused in the Middle East and the conflict the U.S. government is stirring up with Russia over Ukraine.
Old-fashioned colonialism was deemed necessary by various European powers to secure natural resources along with control over sea lanes and markets for selling manufactured goods. European-style colonialism — supporting a mercantilistic economy — came to be seen as politically unrealistic and unnecessary. When free-trade principles were utilized, colonialism did not die; it only changed form. Mercantilism in various forms and degrees drove trade policies of nations with strong economies and militaries. Though the United States is the world’s military powerhouse, controls the oceans and airspace, and has a presence in the four corners of the earth, few people refer to America as a colonial power. But in many ways it is, which has prompted our interests in oil and mineral rich countries. We are frequently involved in choosing the “elected” leaders, as well as hand-picking dictators, in many countries as well. This is not exactly what the Founders had advised.
International militarization of our policies is just as dangerous to our liberties and economy as is the domestic policy that drives our authoritarian governments to regulate our every move. We are now subject to an out-of-control domestic police force while the U.S. military maintains our Empire overseas.
The “one percenters,” generally speaking, are internationalists who are not champions of individual liberty and free trade. They are supporters of managed trade and international institutions like the WTO where the interests of the one percent can influence the rulings that frequently have little to do with advancing advertised goals of low tariffs and free trade.
The international monetary system is a powerful tool for the select few. Easy credit, government guarantees, and generous contracts are a great benefit to those in charge. Non-compliant nations, or any country that is deemed unfriendly, can be punished with severe sanctions without moral or economic justification. U.S. corporations benefit from our military presence worldwide. The military-industrial complex profits not only by selling weapons to the U.S. government, but also by being the world’s chief arms provider.
It is a fact that many weapons we send into areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria frequently end up in the hands of our enemies. ISIS obtaining U.S. weapons led to the U.S. military then taking action to destroy the weapons. The military-industrial complex is immediately available to replace the weapons while earning generous profits. This is great if you happen to be an insider manufacturing or selling these weapons. It is quite a lucrative business, all at the expense of the American taxpayer.
The United States military presence around the world provides a “private” police force to protect U.S. and other international companies against any local resistance or leaders that turn unfriendly. Our military presence overseas has nothing to do with protecting our freedoms and defending our Constitution. Those are lies and are used for the purpose of gaining the support of the American people for wars that should never have been fought. After long periods of tragic losses and expense, the American people generally wake up and realize what has happened. But what we need to do is wake the American people up earlier and get them to realize that the resistance has to be heard from the people when the government is preparing for war, not after the war has begun or even ended.
Military personnel are idolized, and, if any one raises a question on whether or not all soldiers are universally “heroes,” that person is accused of being unpatriotic, un-American, and unsupportive of the troops. In fact, the real heroes are the ones who expose the truth and refuse to fight foreign wars for the international corporations. Disengaging our troops from around the world and refusing to defend American neocolonialism is pursuing a course compatible with the qualities that Americans claim to stand for.
Liberty at home is never enhanced by war abroad. Preemptive wars are especially antagonistic to the goals of peace, commerce, and honest friendship. War “is the health of the state,” it has been said, and the state is the enemy of liberty. Wars overseas justify the wars at home against the American people. It is expected that liberties will be sacrificed when a country is at war. Pro-war neoconservatives are blatantly honest by arguing that for freedom to exist the sacrifice of liberty is required. This admission is truly discouraging. It hardly makes sense that voluntarily sacrificing liberty is worthwhile, if the goal is to preserve liberty. Time is short to reverse this trend.
Astronomical expenses incurred
Not only are our policies destructive to liberty, the economic costs are prohibitive. So far the bills have not been paid, but they are rapidly coming due. Both the deeply flawed policy of military interventionism abroad and the failed errors of central economic planning at home are now threatening our liberties and our general welfare. The recent breakout of violence in our cities between police on one side and people who have been thrust into the stagnation of poverty as a consequence of bad government social and economic policy on the other side should not be a mystery if one could see the forest for the trees. Economic problems are “blowback” and unintended consequences of well-meaning welfare programs that have been usurped by the powerful special interests demanding benefits off the top.
Yes, it’s tempting to believe the falsehoods of economists who claim that transferring wealth for fairness sake is beneficial, but history shows that it never works. The same humanitarians argue that all spending is crucial and beneficial, deficits don’t matter, borrowing is good, and taxing is the equalizer. If government still comes up short they say just turn on the printing presses. That is the philosophy we have been living with for 85 years, and the evidence is now in. It is clear to most Americans that these policies have not worked. Yet they are not ready to concede that it is less government and more freedom that is the solution.
The obsession with continuing all the same policies has increased our poverty, increased violence between the classes, and lowered the standard of living for all except the elite one percent. And worst of all, the sacrifice of liberty was for naught. Losing both liberty and the right to truly own property undermines the ability to create wealth. When this process gets out-of-control the economy goes into a death spiral, in the beginning of which we currently find ourselves. Without a correction to the basic understanding of the proper role of government, the downward spiral will continue.
Blowback all around: We are less safe
Economic blowback and unintended consequences is one thing, but blowback from our needless and aggressive policies around the world is another, and every bit as dangerous. As we find ourselves increasingly engaged economically and militarily around the world, we can expect many more attacks on American interests. With so many military personnel abroad, they will be the easiest targets to be hit. But attacks similar in nature to the 9/11 attacks will remain a threat to our homeland. We will not be attacked because we are free and rich. The attacks will come from angry people who have had friends and relatives killed by America’s careless and often vicious use of our military force in their countries.
It is not that difficult to feel resentment against a country that comes thousands of miles from home and bombs, invades, and punishes with sanctions, other countries that have never initiated force against it. As long as our foreign policy remains the same we can expect serious blowback attacks — and for them to increase in number as our prowess is diminished. Economic factors will determine this, and the loss of dollar hegemony will aggravate the situation.
The U.S. government’s foolishness in foreign affairs has plagued us for 100 years. The escalation of our presence around the world since 9/11 continues. It is a policy “bubble” of gigantic proportions. This “bubble” of intervention is about to burst. Any serious look at our last 13 years of intervention around the world should convince all skeptics of how foolish, dangerous, and expensive it has been. The U.S. operates with an attitude that it has the power and therefore the responsibility to be involved in deciding almost every foreign leader, whether elected or appointed as a dictator.
We have been engaged in picking and financing political factions in revolts in countries including Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, Ukraine, Somalia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Liberia, Georgia, Haiti, and Lebanon.
These involvements impose a huge tax and inflation burden on the American people. Trillions of dollars have been spent, and the debt continues to mount. The abject failure of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan elicits a loud call from the neoconservatives for more money, troops, weapons, and bombs, with zero hope of a successful mission. ISIS, now considered our greatest threat, is not even a country, but our occupation and destruction in the region motivates even a ragtag bunch to expel foreign forces from their homeland. ISIS has rallied enormous support and resources to undermine our allies in the region. That assessment is difficult, of course, since it’s hard for anyone to identify exactly who our allies are and distinguish them from our avowed enemies.
U.S. foreign policy has helped create the disastrous situation in Syria. We declared that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad had to go. We supported rebel factions. We armed them. They turned on us and used their American weapons against us with an amazing resistance headed by the ruthless ISIS, an outgrowth of al-Qaeda. It’s quite an irony that ISIS is well entrenched in northern Iraq, since before we decided to invade Iraq and kill Saddam Hussein no al-Qaeda were present in Iraq. Now the neocons are getting their way and American forces are returning with reinforcements and weapons to save Baghdad from the jihadists.
No one can make this stuff up. It’s too bizarre for fiction. Unfortunately, with the help of the media and our government, the American people have remained oblivious to the stupidity of our policies of the past 13 years. A day will come though when the full cost of this policy is dumped on the American people. Then they will get the message. Then it will be too late to gracefully exit and restore sanity without cataclysmic changes being forced on us. The major challenge will be the survival of our liberties.
What to expect in 2015
More American troops will be sent overseas to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Ukraine. There will be no military victories to brag about. More American military personnel will be killed in 2015 than in 2014. Military contractors will be used in growing numbers and their casualties will not be counted as military casualties.
The Ukraine civil war will not end, and the United States will be further bogged down in this conflict. Relations with Russia will continue to deteriorate. The neocons in Congress will gain even more influence over our foreign policy. Punishing sanctions will continue to be made more severe and push Russia further into China’s sphere of influence. Gold will gain credibility as we isolate the Russians from the financial markets.
Sanctions on Russia will alienate Europe against the United States. The British oil industry will suffer from the “conspiracy” of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to drive oil prices down to punish Russia.
The military-industrial complex will continue to thrive and make even more money with the greater influence of the neocons in the new Congress. Supplemental budgets for the military should be expected, along with covert assistance and additional foreign aid to finance the management of our Empire.
Our enemies’ strength will grow and prompt even more abuse of American citizens’ privacy and free expression. We should not be surprised if there is a reigniting of the conflict in the Balkans. The first of the color revolutions in 2000 in Serbia can hardly be claimed a permanent victory. Generally, bombs from outsiders don’t solve internal problems. Those problems must eventually be solved from within a country rather than from outside interference.
The U.S. and NATO announced that the 13 year war in Afghanistan has ended. There has been neither the pretense of “Mission Accomplished” nor an admission of outright failure, along with an exodus. In reality the war has not ended and instead will continue for a long time. No victory for U.S. policy is possible. The conflict will actually spread and increase in intensity since our goals are undefinable and therefore the war is un-winnable.
Sanity will not return to U.S. leaders until our financial system collapses — an event for which they are feverishly working
An honest assessment of the economy will not reveal any significant improvement in 2015. Inflation will continue to plague us, possibly even with the government-rigged CPI figures showing an increase. But the true inflation of the Fed’s credit creation, as well as the subsequent mal- investment and the various bubbles bursting will accelerate. Debt in all categories will continue to increase at unsustainable rates. The Fed will not permit interest rates to rise — at least on purpose. Eventually the market will demand that rates do rise, however.
Tax revenues will continue to rise, aiding the policy of the government spending the people’s money rather than those who earned it. Regulations, even with (or maybe especially with) a Republican Congress will continue to increase and make the Federal Register more incomprehensible. Friction between the middle class and the one percent, many of whom are living off government privileges, will escalate further and be reflected in confrontations especially in the large cities. Financial currency controls will continue to expand especially with cross-border transactions.
Blowback and unintended consequences from our sanctions and foreign policy in general will continue to threaten our domestic security and our economy, as well as our liberties.
Relations with Cuba will be improved with the president’s effort to resume diplomatic relations, but the radicals and isolationists who oppose free trade will place roadblocks in the way and slow the process.
A major geopolitical or economic event, greater than the crisis of 2008, is fast approaching. The precipitating event will be a surprise to the majority of politicians and economists. There are many “next shoe to drop” possibilities, and one could happen any time or any place.
Wall Street will be protected, and the trillions of dollars of big banks derivatives will be absorbed by the Fed, the FDIC, and ultimately by the American taxpayers in the next financial crisis. There’s no doubt the poor will get poorer and the rich richer until the spirit of revolution in the people calls a halt to the systematic destruction of freedom in America.
Conclusion: Toward a peaceful revolution
Authoritarianism has overtaken our economic system as the welfare mentality takes over at every level of government. Once the initiation of force by government is accepted by the people, even minimally, it escalates and involves every aspect of society. The only question that remains is just who gets to wield the power to distribute the largess to their friends and chosen beneficiaries. It’s a recipe for steady growth of the government at the expense of liberties, even if official documents and laws written to limit government power are in place. Planting even small seeds of monopoly power in the hands of a few people in government, whether democratically elected or not, will always metastasize like a cancer. This was Jefferson’s concern when he advised that “[t]he tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time.” He believed the people must warn the rulers that taking up arms against the government is legitimate if the government fails to protect the people’s liberty.
This should be a consideration. But if the spirit of liberty is not alive and well in the hearts and minds of the people, violence alone against the government will not be a solution. History has shown that, more often than not, people who rebel against abusive governments, whether run by kings or modern day dictators, do not gain much — overthrowing one dictator and replacing him with another just as bad.
A clear understanding of the nature and source of liberty is required for revolutions to be beneficial. Restraining the few who thrive on the use of force to rule over us is the challenge. Fortunately they are outnumbered by those who would choose liberty yet lack the will to challenge the humanitarian monsters who gain support from naive and apathetic citizens. All positive revolutions must be philosophic in nature to make a difference. Violence alone achieves nothing.
Before we can actually restore our liberties, we most likely will have to become a lot less free and much poorer. This is sad since correct and workable answers are available to us if only the people understood them and demanded liberty and honesty, rather than being dependent on excessive government power and believing the false promises of politicians.
Even with the problems we face today and the bleak outlook for the coming year there’s much to encourage us. During this next year there will be the continuation of many more people recognizing the failure of government to create peace and prosperity. More widespread understanding of this truth is required in order to bring about a successful revolution.
The freedom movement, especially with many young people involved, will grow in numbers and influence.
Current monetary policy and the Federal Reserve will continue to lose credibility, especially with the next bailout. Although “too big to fail” will stay in place, it will further alienate Main Street America causing it to rebel against the system.
The real problem of course is that too many “stupid people” are IN our government and have high visibility on the major TV networks. There will be plenty of people, not officially associated with government, who will rebel against various governments around the world. The sentiments supporting secession, jury nullification, nullification of federal laws by state legislatures, and a drive for more independence from larger governments will continue.
We should not be discouraged. Enlightenment is not nearly as difficult to achieve as it was before the breakthrough with Internet communications occurred. Besides we must remember that “an idea whose time has come” cannot be stopped by armies, demagogues, politicians, or even Fox News or MSNBC. The time has come for the ideas of liberty to prevail. I smell progress.